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Abortion

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Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, is expanding its abortion coverage for employees after staying largely mum on the issue following the Supreme Court ruling that scrapped a nationwide right to abortion. In a memo sent to employees on Friday, the company said its health care plans will now cover abortion for employees “when there is a health risk to the mother, rape or incest, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or lack of fetal viability.” In Arkansas, where Walmart is based, abortion is banned under all circumstances unless the procedure is needed to protect the life of the mother in a medical emergency. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.

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An Arizona judge is set to hear arguments on the state’s request to allow it to enforce a near-total ban on abortions under a law that has been blocked for nearly 50 years. Abortion-rights advocates are fighting the request from Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich. He wants prosecutors to be able to charge doctors who provide abortions unless the mother’s life is in danger. That law was first enacted decades before Arizona was granted statehood in 1912 and blocked following the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. The nation's high court overturned Roe in June and said women do not have a constitutional right to an abortion. A judge in Tucson will hear the Arizona case on Friday.

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A federal judge has ruled that abortions are no longer legal after 20 weeks of pregnancy in North Carolina. U.S. District Judge William Osteen reinstated the abortion ban Wednesday after he said the June U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade erased the legal foundation for his 2019 ruling that placed an injunction on the 1973 state law. The ruling erodes protections in one of the South’s few remaining safe havens for reproductive freedom. His decision defies the recommendations of all named parties in the 2019 case, including doctors, district attorneys and the attorney general’s office, who earlier this week filed briefs requesting he let the injunction stand.

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The South Carolina “fetal heartbeat” law banning abortion around six weeks is no longer in effect after the state Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily blocked it. For now, South Carolinians can access abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy. In its order granting a preliminary injunction, the court said “at this preliminary stage, we are unable to determine with finality the constitutionality of the Act under our state’s constitutional prohibition against unreasonable invasions of privacy.” Meanwhile, lawmakers are considering additional restrictions. On Wednesday, the Senate Medical Affairs Committee held public testimony as they consider language for another proposal. On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee advanced a near-total abortion ban with no restrictions for rape or incest.

The judge reinstated the abortion ban Wednesday after he said the June U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade erased the legal foundation for his 2019 ruling that placed an injunction on the 1973 state law.

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Medical groups and states across the U.S. are watching as a legal battle over abortion rights pits the deep-red state of Idaho against the Department of Justice. As of Wednesday, 20 states, the American College of Emergency Physicians and other medical groups have filed “friend of the court” briefs in the lawsuit over Idaho's near-total abortion ban. The Idaho law makes performing nearly any abortion a felony, but allows physicians to defend themselves in court by showing that the procedure was necessary to save a patient’s life. But federal health care law requires Medicaid-funded hospitals to provide “stabilizing” treatment to patients, and the Department of Justice says that includes some emergency abortions.

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An appellate court has upheld a lower court ruling that a parentless 16-year-old girl in the Florida Panhandle is not “sufficiently mature” to end her pregnancy while seeking a waiver from a state law requiring minors to get parental consent for an abortion. The teen, known as Jane Doe 22-B in court papers, had told the lower court that her guardian was fine with her ending the pregnancy. But the juvenile court judge in Pensacola found that she didn’t adequately articulate her request. The juvenile judge left open the option for re-evaluating that decision if the teen could return to court and eliminate any doubts.

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A near total abortion ban in South Carolina that doesn't include exceptions for pregnancies’ caused by rape or incest was sent to the state House floor Tuesday but not without hints and warnings that the lack of exceptions could cause a big legislative fight in a few weeks. The House Judiciary Committee voted 13-7 to approve the ban. All yes votes were from Republicans and all votes against the bill from Democrats. But three Republican committee members who were at the meeting did not vote. South Carolina currently has a six-week ban passed in 2021 that went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The full House will likely debate the bill at a special session called by House Speaker Murrell Smith in the next few weeks.

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In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is one of several medical procedures people can undergo to help them build a family. It also is one of the most expensive. On average,…

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The Idaho Supreme Court says Idaho’s strict abortion bans will be allowed to take effect while legal challenges play out in court. The state's highest court made the ruling late Friday afternoon. A doctor and a regional Planned Parenthood affiliate sued the state earlier this year over three anti-abortion laws, all of which were designed to take effect this year now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade. Under the new ruling, a near-total criminalizing all abortions takes effect Aug. 25. The law says anyone performing or assisting with an abortion may be charged with a felony, but physicians can attempt to defend themselves by saying the procedure was necessary to save a life.

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Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has asked the state courts to allow her to implement a 2018 law banning most abortions. The law was permanently blocked by a judge in 2019 as unconstitutional. Reynolds previously said she planned to take the matter to court instead of calling a special session to hold a divisive abortion debate and vote just months before she and several other Republican leaders run for reelection. The court filing Thursday is just the first step in a legal battle that could take months to resolve and is likely to end up before the state Supreme Court again. The law would ban abortions once cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy.

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It will soon be illegal in Seattle to discriminate against people for seeking or receiving an abortion, part of the city’s efforts to preserve reproductive rights locally. The Seattle Times reports the Seattle City Council on Tuesday passed a measure making it illegal to discriminate against someone based on their actual or perceived pregnancy outcome. The council also added a statewide misdemeanor charge for interfering with health care to the city’s code, hoping to minimize interference and harassment against those seeking care in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court undoing decades of constitutional abortion protections in June.

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The U.S. Department of Justice asked a federal judge this week to bar Idaho from enforcing its near-total abortion ban while a lawsuit pitting federal health care law against state anti-abortion legislation is underway. The Idaho law is set to automatically take effect on Aug. 25. It makes it a crime for anyone to perform abortions, punishable by up to five years in prison. Physicians who are charged can defend themselves at trial by arguing that the abortions are necessary to save a patient's life or that they were performed because of rape or incest. Meanwhile, a Wyoming judge is considering whether to put that state's abortion ban on hold while another lawsuit moves forward.

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